The report recommended that two people always should be present when the safe is opened to reduce the risk of internal theft. The audit also asked that the department track cash disbursements to each individual officer instead of only to collective unit activities.
"I personally am confident that the folks in charge understand the need for these controls and they are actively pursuing these controls," said Matthew Whitley, Gwinnett County Performance Analysis director.
Tightened procedures recommended in the audit probably helped the department discover a subsequent internal theft: An unspecified amount of cocaine turned up missing from a narcotics locker on March 19, said Officer Brian Kelly, Gwinnett police spokesman. The GBI is investigating.
"We learn from our mistakes just like any other entity out there," Kelly said. "There is no way to forecast the way technology changes and to put perfect preemptive policies in place."
The investigation of the missing cocaine came six months after the arrests of two former narcotics officers accused of tampering with funds used for drug investigations. Maj. David Butler, a narcotics unit supervisor, allegedly stole $4,000 from a safe at police headquarters. Narcotics investigator Vennie Harden allegedly forged a supervisor's name to obtain funds on three occasions.
After the Harden and Butler arrests, the department introduced more stringent accounting procedures for the buy money. The department now conducts surprise audits in addition to quarterly audits. All recommendations from the county's audit have been incorporated into department procedures, Kelly said.